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――Life on Gladiator Island Ginunhive, was not that bad for Subaru.
Subaru’s performance during the Sparka event had been well received by the gladiators competing on the Gladiator Island, apparently. And so, where he went, he would receive the same reception he had gotten in that large hall.
Even in an environment where one would be forced to fight, the way of the Vollachian Empire remained unchanged.
Therefore, it seemed that the principle of the strong being valued was valid all the same, and the Sparka performed by Subaru and the others of the Unit suited said principle well.
???: [Even though he’s just a scrawny brat, he’s got grit.]
That seemed to be the common assessment of Subaru.
It must have been quite amusing to them that Subaru, a child who could be throttled with one hand if such was one’s wish, had put up a good fight against the lion Gladiator Beast.
The fact that Subaru seemed to be just an ordinary child for his age, in opposition to the fake Cecilus, his age the same as Subaru’s, was perhaps helping this impression. Conversely, the fake Cecilus’s reputation was just that bad.
Cecilus: [I guess what I really want to say is that I’m just living my life as myself, so I really don’t care what everyone around me thinks of me. After all, none of you will be able to complain once you see the results. Oh, I don’t mean physical results, but emotional ones.]
Give or take, that had been his reaction at the time he overheard his reputation from the people around him.
He had already sensed that was the case in some way, but the fake Cecilus had no desire to change his way of being, nor did he care to live in accordance with the people around him.
He possessed a strong will to stick to his beliefs, and the strength to carry that through―― both of which affirmed the fake Cecilus’s outlandish ego.
And, as per the rules of the Gladiator Island and the Empire both, that was acceptable.
Idra: [But, being loathed for it isn’t really beneficial. We cannot survive on the Island alone, because we are a Unit.]
Weitz: [So yer saying that in there lies the power to survive, that so… Guessing from that brat’s uncontrollable behavior, he seems to be confident in his way too…]
Hiain: [Tch, what a weirdo, it ain’t any of our business. I mean, dealing with these two creepy lil’ brats is plenty enough.]
That was the impression the Unit’s members had of the fake Cecilus.
It might have sounded harsh, but it was an entirely natural thought. To begin with, unless they were very strong and in a safe place, all gladiators would struggle so they could survive day-in and day-out.
That was the norm, hence why they were left them with little time to care about the people around them.
Subaru: [Well, I do have a problem with Hiain treating us like creepy little brats, but what do you think, Tanza? About Ceci.]
Tanza: [To me, it matters not. More importantly, Schwartz-sama…]
Tanza: [――Schwartz-sama, do you really intend to leave this place?]
Having been asked this all of a sudden, her voice sounding half-exasperated and half-reproachful, Subaru’s eyes widened as he turned around and mindlessly let out a “Huh?”.
In the communal room given to the gladiators―― a space that could be called a shared cell, Tanza, Subaru’s roommate, furrowed her smooth eyebrows and took in a breath in a way that was almost dramatic.
Tanza: [This is not the moment for huh’ing. I see that Schwartz-sama has been having a good time with all of the gladiators over the past few days, but do you remember the plan you had at the beginning?]
Subaru: [The plan at the beginning…?]
Tanza: [――Hk, you were thinking of leaving the Island and returning to Chaosflame.]
For a moment, Tanza’s voice became voice towards Subaru’s words that were as if he had no clue as to what she was alluding to.
And with that, the girl took her eyes off Subaru and prefaced with “I’m sorry,” before continuing,
Tanza: [I was intending to follow Schwartz-sama’s plan if possible. But if Schwartz-sama is not working proactively, then everything changes. I must rendezvous with Yorna-sama.]
Tanza: [Even now, I still do not know anything on what happened after Chaosflame, only that Yorna-sama is safe and sound, as evidenced by her continued love for me…]
As she stated this, Tanza touched her own right eye.
What this gesture meant was the change Subaru had witnessed in the residents of the Demon City―― the same blaze within the eyes of those under the effect of Yorna’s Soul Marriage Technique.
Beheading the lion in a single stroke was certainly not something Tanza could do naturally. It meant that the power given by Yorna’s favor towards her, was still in play.
Subaru: [That means Yorna-san is well, doesn’t it?]
Tanza: […Physically. But, I do not know if she is well in heart.]
Subaru: [That’s… Well, yeah. Because Yorna-san treasured everyone in the city…]
Because she was too kind, she had been treated as a traitor on multiple occasions for failing to follow the policies of the Empire.
Subaru believed he somewhat grasped Yorna’s circumstances and the feelings of Tanza and everyone else protected by Yorna’s ideals.
So, it was understandable why Tanza wished to go back to Yorna right away.
Subaru: [But, you can’t rush that. You can’t get what you want by scrambling in the dark.]
Tanza: [But! I cannot afford to be as leisurely as you, Schwartz-sama!]
Tanza: [Correct. I thought you were walking around the Island looking for a way to escape for the past two days, but it turns out you were chatting with your Unit and with other gladiators…]
Using her fingers to count, Tanza criticized Subaru’s behavior over the prior couple of days.
Indeed, for two days, all Subaru had been doing was talking to people. Not looking for a way to escape or figuring out how to work the only drawbridge that connected to the outside world.
Sometimes he would spend time with Weitz and the other people in his Unit, but he gave precedence to learning the rules of the Gladiator Island, as well as other interesting tidbits of information from those who had been on the Island for a longer time.
Those were very leisurely actions in Tanza’s eyes, and perhaps it looked as if Subaru had been preparing to make the Island his home until his death.
But if that were the case――,
Subaru: [That’s absolutely wrong, Tanza. I also have someone I want to see as much as Tanza wants to see Yorna-san. I absolutely have to get out of here.]
Tanza: […Say, are those the people who were with you?]
Subaru: [That’s true with the exception of Abel, and there are others… In a big walled city. And also in the country next door to the Empire. I’ve been very busy, y’know.]
Once Subaru replied that he had others he wanted to meet both there and elsewhere, Tanza fell silent.
Perhaps she was thinking that her singular love for Yorna was greater than Subaru’s love for multiple people, but she did not state that out loud.
That alone was enough to understand how earnest she was. One could only admire Yorna’s dedication to her education, had she been the one to teach her so many things.
Subaru: [Still, I probably can use my head better than you.]
Tanza: [――? What is that supposed to mean…?]
And something happened right when Tanza tilted her head at Subaru’s words.
???: [――Basu! The drawbridge’s going up! New people have just arrived!]
As he raised a boisterous shout, the fake Cecilus came running down the corridor and appeared before them. Tanza’s shoulders jumped at the intensity and loudness of his voice, but Subaru’s reaction was the exact opposite.
Exclaiming “Here they are!” as he leapt up on the spot, he continued,
Subaru: [That’s a lot faster than I’ve heard it is, is this the usual pace?]
Cecilus: [Nah, like I told you, the latest Sparka, your group’s, was an exception. All but the three members in Basu’s Unit failed to escape and ended up at the bottom of the lake… So, Basu and his team made up for the lack of manpower in a hurry.]
Subaru: [Ah, I see.]
As the fake Cecilus had said with a shrug of his shoulder, the previous Sparka had been held with irregularities.
The gladiator candidates who were originally supposed to enter the Gladiator Island with Weitz and the others, had attempted to escape en masse before arriving onto the Island proper. However this ended up failing miserably, resulting in their carriage overturning. All of those who had escaped from the drawbridge into the lake became food for the aquatic Witchbeasts.
As a result, the Sparka was not held for Weitz and the others, as there were not enough members, and was going to be postponed until the number necessary to form a Unit was replenished, but——.
Subaru: [So back then, when Tanza and I came in, Weitz and the others must have been really down, huh.]
New recruits meant that they had to undergo Sparka, and not only that, Subaru and Tanza were the ones joining―― and Tanza was unconscious.
Essentially, with the inclusion of one child with nasty eyes, it was a four-man Sparka.
All three must have thought it was the most unlucky day of their lives.
Subaru: [However, it was actually the luckiest day of their lives.]
Cecilus: [Oh, you have a very nice, confident look on your face. So, Basu, what do you want to do now?]
Subaru: [Yeah, I’m going to check out the drawbridge. I’d like to talk to some of the people from outside as well.]
Cecilus: [That might be a lil’ difficult. I think this Sparka’ll start rather early in comparison to last time, so you may not get a chance to meet them.]
Subaru: [I see… It’s tricky, but if that’s the case, there are ways to make it work.]
With Subaru answer that while putting his hand on his chin, the fake Cecilus raised his eyebrows in response.
His interest, or perhaps his favorable impression of Subaru’s reply, was easily understandable from his reaction. His personality was the type of having trouble keeping secrets, but still someone they had to keep their guard up against.
There were few people in this world who could kill a person regardless of how much they liked them.
The rumored personality of the fake Cecilus on the Island was enough to make Subaru treat him as if he were a ticking bomb.
Of course, too much apprehension would only shorten the fuse, so finding the right balance was a good idea.
Subaru: [Finally, there seems to be some progress. Tanza, what do you think?]
Tanza: [No, well, what do you mean? Are you and Segmunt-sama plotting something?]
Cecilus: [It’s nothing of that kind! I wasn’t told anything of Basu’s thoughts, and even if I was, it wasn’t anything big. He simply told me to inform him when the drawbridge was about to be raised. Everything planned afterwards, is inside Basu’s head, y’know!]
Seeing that there was no information to be gained from a Cecilus displaying himself as having not the slightest clue, Tanza’s gaze turned to Subaru, as if to accuse him of hiding something from her. Although, Subaru had no intention of hiding anything from her.
Though, it was his intention to move rather cautiously.
Subaru: [For now, let’s talk while we go check out the drawbridge. We’d all be stupid to miss it.]
With Tanza looking as if she wanted to say something and the amused fake Cecilus in tow, Subaru left the common room and headed for the upper level of the Island, from where he could see the drawbridge. Atop the Island, gladiators were allowed a great deal of freedom in their activities, and except for those whose behavior was abhorrent on a daily basis, they were not restricted in any way aside for when they would go to bed or had their deathmatches.
There were certain rules when to bath or eat, which apparently needed to be followed, but it was a far cry from what he had imagined, which had been the life of a slave or an inmate in a prison.
The Gladiator Island had a gladiatorial arena at the center of the Island, which became the stage where grand events were held for the likes of spectators from outside the Island. As such, and because the gladiatorial arena and its surroundings were what the outsiders would be seeing, it was decorated in a rather flashy and stand-out style.
On the other hand, the rest of the gladiator’s free living spaces were simple, so, with the exception of the bare minimum facilities essential for living, the Island felt “gray” as a whole.
Subaru: [But there’s also the healing room, and there’s also a library, isn’t it?]
Tanza: [It is said that they began taking in books ever since Governor Gustav became the island chief. Surprisingly, I hear that it has become the place where everyone spends their relaxation time together.]
Subaru: [Yeah, there were a lot of books. Though it’d be nice if I could also read them.]
Whilst nodding at Tanza’s description, Subaru scratched his temple with his finger.
The letters of this world, which Subaru had supposedly studied, seemed to have been kicked out of his brain right after it was shrunk, so he could only read and understand them falteringly.
He remembered some bits vaguely, so it was not impossible to decipher them were he to try hard enough, but he had to use his mind like he was on a treasure hunt just to read a single page.
Subaru: [If nee-sama knew about this, she’d be extremely upset with me…]
The person who had given Subaru the most help in studying the letters was nee-sama―― Ram. And so, were she to become aware of Subaru’s current predicament, she would be very angry.
Even discounting that, he had left Rem by herself. He was sure that Ram would be angry upon learning that. That was something Subaru also wanted to get angry about.
Subaru: [――In order for us to get off this Island, there are two things which will become our obstacles. One of them is the drawbridge that connects the Island to the other side of the river.]
Tanza: […Yes, I am aware of it.]
The stage was for the purpose of running the gladiatorial arena, which was built on the Island in the center of the lake.
As half of it came from the Island side, and the other half from the river bank side, the drawbridge could not be crossed unless it was suspended from both sides. It was problematic, because it was usually raised so that it could not be crossed.
Cecilus: [That’s why it’s usually lowered. It’s raised only when needed.]
Subaru: [That still doesn’t make sense to me, no matter how many times you tell me. That’s why I want to see the real thing.]
Although the tone of Cecilus’s voice was as if he was speaking to someone who just did not want to listen, at any rate, within Subaru the image of the drawbridge was without a doubt that of one bridge divided into two from the middle, with each side causing the bridge to withdraw.
Naturally, according to that image the drawbridge would be “lowered”.
Tanza: [Then, Schwartz-sama, the second obstacle is…]
Sweeping away the conceptual image in Subaru’s mind, Tanza inquired as to the direction of the conversation. At those words, Subaru let out an “Uh huh” and took a short breath, then,
Subaru: [Needless to say, it’s the curse rule. The one that Gustav says is placed on all the gladiators.]
As the ends of her gentle eyebrows lowered, Tanza made a complicated face.
Natrually, she would have understood the issue without even being told―― it was the curse rule.
A curse mark was bestowed upon all the gladiators on the Gladiator Island, and it was activated on those who broke the curse rule, possessing them of their lives. That was the main reason why Gustav continued to reign as the absolute ruler of the Gladiator Island, as Governor.
No one could defy Gustav; defying him would cost one of their life.
Even if one did not defy him, as long as the curse mark was not removed, one did not know when their life would be terminated for violating the curse rule.
How to remove it, and the details of the curse rule, nobody except Gustav himself knew.
Subaru: [If you ask me what I’m scared of, that’d be that I don’t know the detailed rules. I could just be spending my time normally, and then inadvertently violate them and die without realizing it.]
Cecilus: [Well, from what I know there was that sorta unease when Gustav first became Governor, but lately, that unease seems to have faded away for the most part. That said, it seems like Gustav doesn’t want to reduce the number of gladiators all silly-nilly, so it’s a relief that he’s declared what should never be done.]
Subaru: [Declared… So that’d be stuff like, “Do not defy the guards” and “Fighting amongst fellow gladiators outside of deathmatches is prohibited” and “Do not flee from this Island without permission”, and so on.]
Subaru: [――As I thought, the last one there is the problem.]
For maintaining the rules for living on the Island, Gustav had imposed the curse rule.
Nevertheless, it was true that this was in direct conflict with Subaru’s and Tanza’s objectives.
Subaru: [Aside from less-than-upright methods, there are other ways to break the curse rule and quit being a gladiator, right?]
Cecilus: [Yeah, there certainly are. That specific case’d be the large-scale show that they hold once a year, His Excellency the Emperor gets invited, and it’s the famous reward for the deathmatch they hold in his presence. There’s also other ways, such as someone in the audience spending lots of money to take you out. Therefore, the gladiators also need to look good, meaning a necessity to charm them with magnificent beauty emerges.]
Subaru: […For some reason or another, my mental image is that of gladiators.]
That was something that resembled the so-called gladiators from the Roman Empire. 
He did not know much about the details, but it had a nuance along the lines of a slave that was made to fight with a sword, which could be said to be literally the same position as the gladiators of the Island.
He had heard that there was a person, seemiungly seemingly been a famous gladiator of old, who had brought about a rebellion alongside the other gladiators, but――, 
Subaru: [What I want to do is escape, not rebel, so I’m thinking more like a great prison escape.]
What could become a hint, would be the patterns of those who have escaped from prison.
However, knowledge of such movies and manga was also rather hazy within Subaru. It seemed that they would not be able to utilize that with things as they were, so Subaru still had to find the right answer.
Subaru: [Whatever the case, for the sake of getting off of the Island we have to do something about these two things, the drawbridge and the curse rule. For that reason as well, it is absolutely essential that we go observe the drawbridge, got it?]
Tanza: […I concur. Still, that does not explain why Schwartz-sama was taking his time relaxedly up until the drawbridge moved.]
Subaru: [You sure are holding that against me…]
Responding to Tanza’s intent gaze, Subaru scratched his head as he made a troubled face.
While they were talking like that, the three of them headed to the vantage point they sought. Halfway up the mountain that got taller as it approached the center of the Island, a balcony had been built in a position that overlooked half of the lake.
Rather than a balcony, it was more accurate to call it an observation deck, but there were a few other people in attendance besides Subaru and the other two. The other gladiators seemed to have come here as curious onlookers.
Amongst the ranks of the onlookers, a figure suddenly turned and waved to Subaru and the others.
???: [That’s Schwartz, ain’t it? What’re you doing here?]
Subaru: [Oh, Hiain, you’re here as well. Just looking at the goods?]
Hiain: [As if I could be doing something like that…! I’d heard the next sacrifices were coming, that’s why.]
Averting his eyes, the lizardman Hiain was unable to continue with the rest of the words.
As a member of the same Unit as Subaru, contrary to his cocksure attitude, he was quite timid. He was not a bad person, but on the other hand his character was not something to be openly praised.
Even that excuse just now had not fully dispelled any part of that purpose of “looking at goods”.
Tanza: [Hiain-sama, did you want to take a look at the people who are coming next?]
Tanza: [If you do not want to tell me, it does not particularly bother me, however.]
At the reserved Tanza’s question, Hiain curled his big mouth and hesitated to answer. But with the silence immediately becoming unbearable, Hiain said “That’s right!” with a trembling voice.
Resting his elbows on the railing, while scowled at the lake below, he spoke,
Hiain: [I wanted to see the faces of the guys coming here next. Is that wrong?]
Subaru: [That’s not wrong, but for what reason? Since you survived the Sparka, it’d be inconsiderate to come here to check if the next group of oncomers can survive Sparka, or something of the sort.]
Hiain: [Like I’d do something that evil…! I ain’t saying there aren’t guys like that tho’.]
He was different, and with that, Hiain denied Subaru’s suspicions.
He had decided to trust that answer for the moment. Subaru also earnestly understood that Hiain was not a bad guy, he was just a scaredy-cat. He also was the one that seemed to be the least accustomed to the rules of this Gladiator Island.
Hiain: […So, why’d you guys come?]
Subaru: [We aren’t just looking at the goods, nor are we curious onlookers. Of course, we’re interested in the people they’re bringing this time around, but we want to see the drawbridge.]
Hiain: [You wanna see the bridge? What are you, a brat…? Wait, you really are a brat, ain’t you!?]
Subaru: [No, that’s right, and you sure talk loudly.]
Subaru’s lips curved due to Hiain recklessly speaking very loudly, perhaps to cover up his own feelings. As he then stood alongside him, they looked over the lake below.
Albeit the sun was still high in the sky, the area around the Gladiator Island was faintly darkened by an overcast sky.
For some reason, it seemed the clouds in the area never seemed to clear up, and he had heard that the overcast sky was present all year round. Based on how the sky looked, this was a place that darkened people’s spirits.
Cecilus: [Well, there are a considerable number of people who enjoy that kinda environment, I rather like it.]
Subaru: [That’s surprising. I thought Ceci’d be a big fan of sunny days… But, you do call yourself “lightning”, so it’s possible you don’t care if it’s cloudy.]
Cecilus: [I see, it’s not something I ever cared much about, but now that you mention it…]
Shrugging his shoulders at the fake Cecilus, who put his hand over his mouth as his eyes gleamed at the surprising revelation, Subaru and the others lined up in front of the railing, waiting for the drawbridge in question to be raised.
Then, not too long after――,
Subaru: [Oh, ohhh――!]
At first, the rattling sound of gears and mechanical parts moving could be heard from somewhere.
His thought was that it had to utilize the same mechanism the iron fence at the gladiatorial arena used to spring up, but the drawbridge’s was on a scale a world apart. After all, not constructing a bridge of tremendous length would not do, so, from what it seemed, they’d had to balance that with turning either large gears, or a large amount of gears.
Before Subaru’s eyes, slowly, the drawbridge “rose”――.
What had appeared so, so slowly, was the drawbridge that had been submerged deep within the lake.
Just like how the fake Cecilus had corrected him about it many times, moving in conjunction with the mechanism of rotating gears, it “rose” out of the lake to reveal itself.
Rather than lowering a drawbridge that had been raised, they “raised” a drawbridge that had been submerged.
In precise terms, it was not one singular bridge that was brought up, but multiple connected bridges that emerged from the bottom of the lake, apparently structured to form a single bridge. Once the bridge, divided into multiple sections, was lifted to the same level, it was then connected together to become one, which was completed while a large quantity of water was drained from it.
That very mechanism was also in operation on the river bank side, and so the drawbridge would also rise on the opposite bank. The two drawbridges raised in that way would then become one, releasing the Gladiator Island from its isolation for a limited time. 
Subaru: [The thing that’s moving that bridge is…]
Cecilus: [There’s a tower that controls the drawbridge, so it’s pretty much operated in that tower, y’know. I’ve never actually been inside, so I don’t know what to expect.]
Subaru: [――Inside the control tower.]
As far as a bridge of that scale went, it would probably be difficult to raise and lower it covertly.
That said, crossing the lake in something like a small boat was also impeded by the presence of the Witchbeasts in the water. It seemed that his thinking was still insufficient to provide a realistic means of escape.
Tanza: […Likely, that is the carriage carrying the next people.]
Beside the pondering Subaru, Tanza muttered that while looking towards the opposite shore.
Pulling a single carriage, a large sable Galewind Horse slowly crossed the drawbridge. The Galewind Horse appeared to be an army horse equipped with armor, and it seemed quite tough at a glance.
Around that carriage were soldiers guarding it, riding something smaller than the Galewind Horse. It seemed that they were worried about the carriage overturning last time, so their vigilance was increased.
Cecilus: [Oh, it’s Gustav-san. Looks like he’s coming in person.]
On the other side of the drawbridge, a group was waiting for the carriage to arrive. Among the guards in their black uniforms, Gustav stood, his extraordinarily large chest puffed out.
Was this also a precaution against the last time the carriage overturned? Or, considering it was Gustav, he would have been present regardless.
Subaru: [It’s a little over a kilometer to the other side of the river, maybe no more than two kilometers…?]
It was hard to tell because it was quite a distance away, although the distance of the drawbridge appeared to be more or less what he had guessed.
Even with the mechanism that allowed them to divvy up the weight of the bridge, a drawbridge of such length was unimaginable. Even if magic or some other special magical tool had been used as a basis, it was still quite a feat.
And so, as he was checking the state of his target, the drawbridge――,
Hiain, who like Subaru and the others had been looking at the drawbridge, exclaimed, his voice cracking.
――No, he was not looking at the drawbridge, but at the carriage coming across. The carriage pulled by a huge Galewind Horse had finished crossing the drawbridge, the people inside exiting.
These were the people who would be handed over to Gustav as gladiators, or, more correctly, as candidates to be gladiators. Hiain’s eyes widened at the sight of these faces.
Hiain: [Those idiots… You ended up getting caught…!]
With both hands covering his face, Hiain stared down below him through the gaps between his large, webbed fingers.
Upon laying eyes on the new faces, Subaru understood the meaning of his words. The people brought in were all much like Hiain―― lizardmen. Although the color of their scales suggested that they were possibly of a different ethnic group, they could still be broadly categorized as such.
And Hiain’s reaction was in response to knowing who they were.
Hiain: […Even tho’ you went as far as to use me as bait to get away.]
Subaru narrowed his eyes at Hiain, who muttered to himself bitterly.
During Sparka, when he had tried again and again to get to know Hiain and the others who had participated alongside him, he had been told the circumstances that had brought Hiain to the Gladiator Island.
He had told Subaru that he had been made to play a decoy with his ability to change the color of his scales and blend in, and that he had been used as a sacrificial pawn to buy time for his friends to escape from slavers.
That said, from Hiain’s response, it was clear that they――,
Subaru: [They’re the ones who used you as bait, huh.]
Hiain’s expression changed once Subaru spoke his words, which made Tanza look at him with concern. Although Tanza was probably not fond of him, she probably held sympathy for a person with whom she had exchanged words.
But, once he saw that boy and that girl gazing at him Hiain sniffled “He”, and.
Hiain: [S-serves them right! Ending up making fools out of yourselves because you took advantage of me! After all the pain they caused me… Ridiculous!]
Hiain: [W-what, you got a problem or something!?]
The fake Cecilus closed one eye at Hiain’s words, the latter lashing out angrily, his mouth distorted, at the former. When Hiain recklessly snapped at him in response, the fake Cecilus shook his head, “No, no”,
Cecilus: [I’m not criticizing you. I was just surprised and impressed at the same time, because it was just a mediocre statement by a mediocre character who exists just to be beaten.]
Hiain: [I’m a character who exists just to be beaten…?]
Cecilus: [What else can I say? This is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a bit, but why do all these people who are supposed to be side characters always blurt out things that make them sound like they are side characters? Why don’t they just read one of those picture books, and understand how foolish it all sounds?]
In front of Hiain, whose voice trembled, the fake Cecilus clasped his hands up high together.
With a dry sound, the fake Cecilus drew the attention of those around him to himself,
Cecilus: [Look around and see for yourselves. I haven’t read every story I can find of the past and the present and of every location, but if you read ones that catch your eye from cover to cover, you’ll find that that they are are many members to their cast. The famous ones say and do things worthy of their renown, and those who aren’t say and do things that are worthy of their stupidity. And this applies to reality outside pictures book more than you might think.]
Hiain: [W-What the hell are you talking about…?]
Cecilus: [Weak people say things that seem weak! Strong people say things that seem strong! The leading actors say the coolest things, and the minor characters whisper in a voice that’s hard to hear! Oh, it’s all so bizarre and strange, don’t you think?]
Cecilus: [Why are y’all so eager to play the smallest roles out of your own will? We’re all actors who need to live out our own lives. Of course, the lead actor can only be me.]
Keeping their gazes focused on him, the fake Cecilus lightly tapped on the ground under his sandalled feet, focusing not only their gazes but also their hearing all towards himself.
Cecilus: [Why don’t you think things over before you say anything? That statement makes you sound kinda like a small fry who’s about to die.]
Hiain swallowed as the fake Cecilus brought his face closer to him, staring at him from below.
With a smile on his face despite Hiain’s reaction, the fake Cecilus swiftly backed away. But Hiain seemed to be afraid of the fake Cecilus’s eyes, and found himself panting.
And with that, Hiain turned his back to run away from the fake Cecilus, and――,
Hiain: [What!? Leave me alone! The only time I’m getting involved with you guys is when we’re together as a Unit, and…]
Subaru: [What about those people down there? I thought they were your companions.]
Subaru stopped Hiain as he was about to leave, asking him a question. Hearing Subaru’s words, Hiain exhaled with a “Ha!”,
Hiain: [It’s as I said! They used me as bait and then they fucked up after that! I don’t give a shit about those idiots!]
Subaru: [――But, when you dropped that bag down the cliff, they shared their food with you, didn’t they?]
Hearing Subaru’s words, Hiain’s eyes widened with an “Ah”.
To Hiain’s astonishment, Subaru continued with “More than that”,
Subaru: [They helped you get away from bandits, and when you couldn’t start a fire, they did it for you… The last thing you remember about them might be a bad memory, but…]
Subaru: [It’s too lonely to think that the last thing you saw of them makes up everything about those people.]
There was the saying that a person would show their true colors in extreme circumstances.
How ridiculous, Subaru wanted to say as to tell him to discard that logic.
It was ridiculous to assume that, when a person was placed in an extraordinary, uncontrollable situation, the actions they took there would determine everything about them.
Then, would what Hiain, Weitz, and Idra had done during Sparka be their true colors?
Would Subaru think they were a scaredy-cat, a coward, and a fraud… And that all that was all there was to them?
There were moments they would cooperate with Subaru without running away, without outsmarting them, without deceiving them, and that was why they were all here together like this, having narrowly escaped from death.
That was why――,
Subaru: [If you talk to them, you might get a different story.]
Even Subaru had been unable to love the people who he now loved from the get-go.
He had also seen the less pleasant sides of those people. Still, Subaru wanted to like everyone. And Subaru believed himself to not be the sole unique person in this regard.
Hiain: […You’re a creepy lil’ brat. Always talking like you know it all.]
At Subaru’s appeal, Hiain muttered something that sounded spiteful.
From his point of view, it had to be quite sickening, to be told a story that he did not remember telling Subaru. And yet, with a face portraying a thought that preceded the eeriness he felt,
Hiain: [They’ll never get past Sparka. So, it’s impossible.]
With that, Hiain walked away from his perch, this time without stopping.
But did he realize it? Hiain’s answer did not come from his feelings at that moment, but was merely an excuse as to why he could not do those things. Because the situation would become even more suffocating.
Did he realize that, if the circumstances changed, that excuse would no longer be tenable――?
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama, I am sorry to hear about Hiain-sama and his acquaintances, but…]
As Hiain turned away, Tanza gently touched Subaru’s sleeve. Her round eyes were shimmering with impatience, accompanied with sympathy.
Out of the obstacles they had to overcome, one of them was the drawbridge. Because she had seen the bridge with her own two eyes, it must have strengthened her resolve to escape the Island.
Naturally, for Tanza, getting off this Island was much, much more important to her than Hiain’s feelings. Of course, it was the same for Subaru.
Subaru also had things that were important to him, and things that he wanted to prioritize.
There was no need to compare Hiain with what Subaru had encountered in the past.
Cecilus: [――Basu, that’s what’s called a thorny path.]
As Subaru fought the boiling, burning sensation in depths of his chest, the fake Cecilus told him that.
When Subaru turned to look at him, the fake Cecilus let out a “Hup”, then stood nimbly atop the railing in front of him. It was a sight that made him feel a tad uneasy, but the fake Cecilus dexterously balanced himself on the narrow railing.
Cecilus: [It’s rare that we get everything to be the way we want them, no matter how many of the best choices we make under the circumstances we find ourselves in. There’s a precondition for those beings who obtain everything. The qualification of being the chosen leading actor. If you do not possess it, and you want something you’re undeserving of――]
Subaru: [What if I do?]
Cecilus: [Only death awaits, isn’t that so?]
As the fake Cecilus stated so, his body leaned heavily toward the other side of the railing. Seeing this, Tanza’s eyes widened and she quickly tried to reach out her hand.
But faster than she could do so, the fake Cecilus, bending at the knees, killed the momentum of his fall. Then crouching, he came face-to-face with Subaru in front of the railing, and,
Cecilus: [So it’s much easier to have things move along if you think of them as what needs to be done, whether you like it or not.]
Subaru: […What needs to be done?]
Cecilus: [Yes, that’s right. Accepting what is in front of you as supremely natural, coming to the conclusion you can’t change destiny. Those who cannot overcome obstacles with their own strength will inevitably stagnate on the road ahead. You’ve got no choice but to carve open your own path… That’s what needs to be done, regardless of what you think about it.]
The fake Cecilus said this while squatting down, skillfully maintaining his posture without moving a single muscle. As Subaru was bombarded directly by those words, the rumors about the fake Cecilus resurfaced in Subaru’s mind.
It had been said that, in the Sparka which the fake Cecilus had participated in, he had not acted until all of his allies had been wiped out.
Then, as soon as he had been left alone, he had killed the Gladiator Beast by his lonesome, and since then, he had been fighting to the death without the members of his Unit at his side, taking the lives of everyone he came to face.
Subaru: [Is that why you don’t help others, Ceci?]
Cecilus: [You must be able to clear your way through any obstacle by yourself. If you accomplish things by borrowing the strength of others, you won’t be able to overcome the same thing the next time you encounter it. You can’t borrow power forever. People’ll eventually die. Even I, am not immortal.]
His intentions were understandable. His logic, too, was not impossible to comprehend.
But that was a type of logic that only the fake Cecilus could declare because he was strong, someone who could cut through problems. It was very harsh, and unkind.
Subaru: [You say that, Ceci, but sometimes encounters can change a person, you know. Then, that changed person might overcome the next obstacle. Besides…]
Standing on one foot on the railing, the fake Cecilus rested his elbow on his bent knee and rested his hand on his chin. Scowling at that face holding back a grin, Subaru bared his teeth.
As an ordinary person who was unable to live alone, to this superhuman who could get through anything on his own.
Subaru: [Ceci, you say to treat it as what needs to be done regardless of my feelings, but it’s important to keep this feeling of not being able to do that.]
Subaru: [This feeling of not being able to throw away my personal feelings to do something, is the driving force to save someone else. Even if I’m told this is the selfishness of a naive brat, because that’s what it is.]
Indeed, that was what Subaru would like to believe.
The size of one’s body did not matter. This was something that Natsuki Subaru thought, no matter how big or small he was.
A belief. A naive logic that could not be disregarded by cleverness posed as mature.
Hearing Subaru’s declaration, the fake Cecilus’s expression changed.
From a thin smile to a big, satisfied grin.
Seeing that out of the corner of his eye, Subaru decided what he needed to do and walked away.
Tanza: [Schwartz-sama! Segmunt-sama, what are…]
Cecilus: [Oh, that’s great, Basu! That fits my logic as well. Cool people say cool things, strong people say things that seem strong. Both casts start by saying things that are worthy of their standing. That’s the very spirit of a rebel towards fate!]
Tanza turned on the fake Cecilus, who was cackling on the railing. However, Subaru had no time to spend on these two people.
There were two places that he needed to go to, and although he could just stop by the first, he needed to have a little discussion, persuasion, or perhaps a kinda baseless accusation for the other one.
That was something he would have to get ready for later, and――
Subaru: [Old Man Null!]
Quickly heading back inside the Island, Subaru rushed to the healing room. As he flung the door open, he saw the back of a panicked figure that had been secretly dozing off inside.
The old man with a thin body, an untended long beard, and the impression of a cotton swab was Old Man Null, the healer cooped up in the healing room.
Null shook his head and blinked at the visitor who had rushed into the room, Subaru. The latter prefaced his question with, “Sorry, sorry”, and then,
Subaru: [――The thing I asked for, is it ready?]
???: [Looks like they’re having the next Sparka… We should have a reason to go watch…]
Hiain loathed Weitz, who, unable to read the situation, had made such an invitation.
Since they had been assembled as members of the same Unit, they frequently had no choice but to be together, however, from the beginning, Hiain had never gotten along with Weitz.
In addition to that, he knew that this was where he himself, who would impulsively flare up at people, and who had poor chemistry with Weitz, who was genuinely courageous―― he, who could not back down, would be the first to spew inflammatory words.
Even though he knew this, he had never been able to fix it.
Because of that, he had been through utterly terrible experiences up to this point. He had been sent to Ginunhive as a gladiator, that mess, too, had been caused by the disaster his mouth had made.
It was true that the people he had been working with had used him as a sacrificial pawn in order to get away from slavers. But, in the first place, it had been Hiain’s own slip of the tongue which had drawn the slavers’ attention to them.
Though frustrated for being incapable of even finding a decent job for merely a day, he had gotten into a bar room fight with a group of clearly dangerous people, and was held accountable for it.
After days and days of being on the receiving end of a harried pursuit, it finally reached the point of turning to direct violence. And, for his comrades to save themselves, a decision was made.
Hiain: [Damnit, I know that…]
Though he was a scaredy-cat, he was short-tempered and would flare up at people; that was the reason he had incurred problems, and yet, until the very end, his comrades did not abandon him.
Reluctant to keep relying on others, and trying to look good, he had told them, “If it becomes hopeless, please just abandon me”. Despite having said this however, on his mind had been the thought that they did not have the courage to abandon him.
At the very end of the end, convinced that they were scaredy-cats just like him, that they would not have the courage to abandon one of their comrades, he had been taking advantage of them.
Hiain: [I know that I’m the most hopeless of them all, damnit…]
Being abandoned, being used as bait, being used as a sacrificial pawn; it had been foolish of him to make a big fuss about it.
That it had been a very foolish thing, Hiain himself understood that.
But, were he to go on without saying that, he would be unable to protect his own heart. He was not at fault, and yet his comrades had been the ones in the wrong that had made him suffer; he firmly wished to believe that.
At the very least, by cursing his comrades in that manner, cursing them, who had escaped harm, he wanted to justify himself.
Hiain: [Despite that, why the hell did y’all get caught, too…!]
After all the trouble he had gone through, getting himself caught like this, and thrown into such a hopeless situation, why had they gotten themselves caught as well? With his justification to curse them snatched away, Hiain was nothing more than an asshole.
Degraded to being merely an asshole, he had no choice but to watch his friends die helplessly, here.
???: [It appears a Unit’s been established with the people that were brought in this time. Unlike how it was with us back then, they’re being thrown in as soon as they arrive…]
With his arms crossed, with his voice trembling, Idra looked down upon the gladiatorial arena from his seat among the spectators.
Idra attempted to hide his trembling voice, but to no avail. Idra may be strong, but deep down, he was not very different from the scaredy-cat Hiain.
Even then, Idra had the determination to put on a guise of strength. Hiain did not. He was miserable.
Gustav: [――From here-on out, the Sparka commences!!]
As the seating crowded with gladiators, the heavy voice of Gustav, the Governor, reverberated through the crowd.
Although they’d had no leisure for noticing it during their own Sparka, in one corner of the gladiatorial arena, there was a stage from which Gustav could look out over the audience―― or rather, a place where dignitaries would be seated during the shows.
From there, Gustav looked down upon the venue with his four arms spread aloft.
At that moment, directly beneath Gustav, a passageway leading to the back of the gladiatorial arena opened, and, from its interior closed off with an iron fence, a Gladiator Beast slowly emerged.
It was a Witchbeast different from the one Hiain and the others had fought, a very, very large rat with soft-looking fur wrapped around its entire body, and bird wings growing out of both of its arms.
However, the differences between the two amounted to only their appearance, and there was no sizeable distinctions in their ferocity or danger, that was what Hiain’s instinctive alarm bells conveyed to him.
In other words, it would not be the case in which, just because it was a different Gladiator Beast, the difficulty of Sparka would be reduced.
Weitz: [So, looks like these are the participants this time…]
As he heard the low roar of the gladiator Beast, as Weitz had stated, the fence of the passageway in front of them opened, and from there the participants of this Sparka―― the five lizardmen, emerged.
The scales of each and every single one of them shook with anxiety and tension, all of their faces were familiar to Hiain.
That final hope of having mistaken them because he had viewed them from a distance, had been crushed.
Suddenly turning his face downward, Hiain realized that there was nowhere for him to run.
Just what had caused this? The scaredy-cat Hiain had survived the Sparka.
Being brought to the same place as Hiain, his comrades would be unable to survive the Sparka, would end up losing their lives―― just what in the world was this curse?
That they had to suffer through this, had it been a result of his cursing?
If so, the effect of Hiain’s cursing had to be a considerable one. Then, he would curse everyone on this Island with the exception of himself―― no, he would rather curse everyone within this Empire, curse them until he ran out of curses, and yet.
To begin with, if he were to curse anyone, he would start with the slavers who had left him and his comrades here.
Hiain, having been engaged with such fanciful and unhelpful retreats from reality, was brought back to his senses by Idra’s dumbfounded mutterings.
What had occurred? With his eyes wide open in astonishment, Idra stared at the gladiatorial arena. And, doing that was not just Idra, but was also Weitz next to him―― no, was not just the two of them.
――The multitude of gladiators in the audience of the venue were all staring in amazement.
The reason for that was clear, and looking down at the gladiatorial arena, Hiain’s expression became the same as those of the others.
Because, beside the five lizardmen, was the figure of a sixth person who was not supposed to be――.
Hiain: [W-w-w-what the hell’re you doing, Schwartz――!?]
His throat trembling, Hiain called out the name of the one who should not be there, the name of the black-haired boy.
The boy from whom he had just parted at that vantage point, the boy who had spoken to him so cheekily, turned around upon hearing Hiain’s pitiful exclamation.
Then, present in the midst of the lizardmen trembling at the life-threatening Sparka before, with a snap he pointed at the face of Hiain in the audience, and declared.
He had been asked what he was doing, and so――.
Subaru: [――The strongest reinforcement.]
So he declared.
 – In this section, several terms all translate to English as “gladiator”, Subaru vocalizes グラディエーター which is the English loanword, 剣奴 is used in narration, which is how the gladiators of Ginunhive are always referred to, and finally 剣闘士 is used in narration to refer to the gladiators of Rome, and we have localized this as “gladiators of old”.
 – This is a reference to the legend of Spartacus.
 – This is a bit of a pun that doesn’t really know in English, the “孤島” in “剣奴孤島”, translated literally, means “isolated island” rather than “island”. Hence why it’s being “released” from “isolation” (孤立) here.